Updated November 2019
At Glasgow Science Centre (GSC), we have been focusing on children’s understanding of balance using an existing balance board exhibit and pre/post-interviews with the describe, predict, explain format. Our early studies with children indicated that children’s interaction with the balance board led to them using balance-type gestures in post-interaction interviews. In early 2019, we collected data from adult-child dyads invited into GSC, using the same protocol with slight adaptations: no transfer tasks, a pre-interview, inclusion of the Parents’ Attitudes about Learning Science (PALS) Survey and exploratory questions about enjoyment. This study showed us that the interaction with parents present is generally longer than when children are interacting with other children; and highlights the unique role of adults in scaffolding children’s interaction. We became interested in whether there might be differences in the way GSC facilitators might scaffold children’s interaction experiences, however, and so will also be running the same studies with facilitators instead of parents too. This will help to inform guidelines as to how to enhance facilitation at science exhibits. We are currently in the process of generating inter reliability analysis of data from adult-child dyads collected in March 2019. We are using this analysis to continue developing a video coding framework for future studies. In November 2019, we recruited parent/carer – child dyads from the GSC science mall floors and are in the process of recruiting preschool children from nurseries to engage in a study with GSC facilitators. We will try to determine if there is a difference in gesture pre during and post exhibit interaction with different adult facilitators.

Alongside this, although somewhat independent of M2L, we have been working on redesign of the existing balance board into a prototype of a digitised, simplified version as part of our Wellcome Trust Impact funding. The redesign is being informed by our current studies and analysis on M2L. We plan to run evaluation studies of the prototype in early 2020.

Glasgow Science Centre

Sharon Macnab
Susan Meikleham

University of Edinburgh

Andrew Manches
Zayba Ghazali-Mohammed
Alexia Revueltas Roux
Jamie Menzies

Updated November 2019
Our work at the Science Museum is happening in The Garden – an interactive space created for children between 3 and 6 years of age. We have been inviting children to talk to us about their every-day experiences with water, before and after they visit The Garden’s interactive water experience. We have also been observing how children interact with the water table so that we can see how this experience might support the way they think and communicate about water, with a focus on their combined bodily, gestural and verbal forms of communication. We are currently exploring how our emerging findings (both at the science museum and in other contexts) might be applied. Drawing on the design guidelines which have emerged from our work so far, we have designed activities which give children different bodily and sensory experiences to communicate some of the science ideas they can engage with at the water table. Over the next few months we will be introducing children to these objects and exploring how these different experiences might influence children’s abilities to think and communicate about science in this context.In particular we will be exploring how different objects might foster and shape children’s gestural communication around science, providing insight into their understanding. Based on this stage of the research we aim to develop more refined guidelines of how the findings from our research can; inform exhibit design in science museum settings; provide guidance for facilitator interaction; and demonstrate how gesture can be used to get a better understanding of how children process their museum experiences.

Science Museum

Karen Davies

University College London Knowledge Lab

Sara Price
Rhiannon Thomas
Minna Nygren

Updated November 2019
UCL and Learning through Landscapes have collaboratively developed a suite of body-based activities for young children, centered around the theme of air resistance. These activities were iteratively designed to allow us to explore how different body-based experiences might underpin children’s meaning making around ideas such as wind, speed, force and surface area. We used video data from children’s interaction and semi-structured interviews to explore how children’s gestural communication might have been fostered and shaped by the interactions they had with these activities. Based on the findings from this research we are developing a set of guidelines for designing body-based activities for young children which meaningfully map the underlying science ideas to the activities which children undertake. We have also further elaborated our model of the role of gesture in young children’s science communication. Both of these outputs will be available in upcoming publications. The data collection phase for this branch of the project has now come to an end and we are now collaboratively exploring how best to translate this research into practice.

Learning through Landscapes

Alison Motion

University College London Knowledge Lab

Sara Price
Rhiannon Thomas
Minna Nygren

Updated November 2019
Research at The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science) in Miami focuses on the River of Grass (ROG), an exhibit that provides children an opportunity to explore science content inspired by the Everglades. The exhibit consists of two water tables (outside) and a 270-degree, full body digital interactive (inside) that simulates a variety of elements of the Everglades, including the day-night cycle, animal behaviors, water flow, and plant life. Using their bodies, children can interact with the exhibit in a number of ways (e.g., touching trees, mimicking animals, placing logs to redirect water, chasing an otter, waving mosquitos away).

Our research focuses on the extent to which kids engage in the exhibit with their body and gestures and how this engagement impacts the way they communicate about the relevant science concepts in a post-interview. Specifically, ROG encourages certain types of movements and actions in the digital space. Our research explores the extent to which this kind of guided movement can act as a foundation for science understanding and communication. Early analysis of our data suggests that kids are very exploratory in the exhibit, seeking out as much new content as possible. Additionally, parent involvement is essential for deep engagement with the exhibit to guide, demonstrate, and provide feedback. Initial analysis of interviews after visiting ROG suggest that children do leverage the movements they use in the exhibit when describing their experience and explaining the scientific content of the exhibit.

Frost Science

Judy Brown
Cheryl Lani Juárez

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

H Chad Lane
Ross Toedte
Jack Dempsey

Updated November 2019
Research at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (TCM) focuses on the Bug Sweeping exhibit, an experience designed to teach kids about the work of entomologists in crop production. Specifically, the exhibit (a full-body interactive experience) walks visitors through the sweep of a soybean field (to collect insects), the analysis of the insects caught (to decide if there is a problem), and finally a decision on potential mitigation steps (if there is a danger to crop production). Visitors simulate the sweeping of a bug net by making a figure 8 motion in the air –the simulation responds accordingly with feedback and results from the sample collection.

Our research investigates to what extent the prescribed movements influence communication of the science concepts and whether they can act as a physical referent when thinking about the collect-analyze-decide process. Analysis of our data suggests that parent involvement, such as through encouragement and feedback, is important for success in the exhibit. Every child in the study thus far (~30) have explained their experience in a post-interview by simulating a bug sweeping motion in the air, demonstrating that the prescribed action of the exhibit becomes a referent for later use. Next steps at TCM will focus on comparison of the full-body interactive with a smaller scale, touch screen version of the exhibit.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Susan Foutz
Neil Davis

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

H Chad Lane
Ross Toedte
Jack Dempsey

Updated November 2019
Work at Sciencenter, in Ithaca, New York, investigates a dam building exhibit and to what extent movement of objects (small bricks) and a constructive activity (build a dam to stop flowing water) impact understanding of water pressure and ability to communicate about their experience. This study acts as a test of our emerging methodology to investigate embodied learning in a variety of informal museum settings. Our hypothesis is that the movement of the blocks and observation of water colliding with them will provide physical referents for explaining water pressure and engaging with civil engineering-related concepts connected to dam building. Also, children will use the exhibit with their parents or another adult, and so we will also collect data about how this support and encouragement impacts movement, understanding, and communication patterns in a post-interview.

Sciencenter

Michelle Kortenaar

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

H Chad Lane
Ross Toedte
Jack Dempsey

Contact

UK
Move2Learn
Moray House School of Education
St John's Land, Floor 4
Holyrood Road
Edinburgh
EH8 8AQ

Contact (UK)

US
Cheryl Lani Juarez
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
1101 Biscayne Blvd
Miami
FL 33132

Contact (US)

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